The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Vietnamese Food
Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its unique flavors and delicious dishes. Its famous dishes such as pho, banh mi, and spring rolls have become popular around the world. The five countries with the most similar food to Vietnam are located in Southeast Asia and have tropical climates. They have influences from both East Asia and South Asia. Rice forms a large part of the diet in these nations.
- Thailand and Vietnam both use a lot of fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables in their dishes. Their cuisines tend to balance sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. One of the most famous Thai dishes is Tom Yum Soup, which is similar to the Vietnamese sour soup called Canh Chua. Sriracha hot sauce originated in Thailand, but is widely used in Vietnam as well. In addition, dishes with curry are popular in both countries.
- Laos is on Vietnam’s western border. Both countries were once colonized by the French. These countries eat a lot of sticky rice and freshwater fish. One of the most famous Lao dishes is Larb, which is similar to the Vietnamese dish Nem. Both are made with minced meat, fresh herbs, and spices. Papaya salad is also quite popular in Laos and Vietnam.
- Philippines is across the South China Sea from Vietnam. Filipino cuisine is known for its use of vinegar and soy sauce, which gives its dishes a sour and savory flavor. Both countries have sweet and sour soups. Sinigang is quite similar to Vietnamese Canh Chua. Spring rolls are also commonly eaten in both countries. Lumpiang ubod and Gỏi cuốn look alike, although the contents of Lumpiang ubod is typically cooked, not raw.
- Myanmar and Vietnam are both well known for their use of fish sauce. Both countries also use a lot of fresh herbs and vegetables in their dishes. One of the most famous Burmese dishes is Mohinga, which is a fish soup that is similar to the Vietnamese soup called Bun Ca. Both dishes are made with a combination of fish, fresh herbs, and spices. However, Burmese typically eat more freshwater fish than pork, unlike Vietnam.
- Indonesia is another country with a lot of coastline bordering the Pacific Ocean. As a result, seafood is a common ingredient in both Vietnamese and Indonesian cuisine. Shrimp and freshwater fish are especially popular in each country. However, since Indonesia is predominately Muslim, a much lower amount of pork is consumed there.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Vietnamese Food
Interestingly enough, four of the five countries with the least similar food to Vietnam are also located in Asia. Besides Syria, these countries are landlocked as well. Furthermore, these nations tend to have drier climates than Vietnam and are also more sparsely populated.
- Mongolia and Vietnam have a few aspects in common. Most of their people have East Asian ancestry. Furthermore, Buddhism is the most prominent religion in both countries, although neither country is particularly religious, since their governments were run by the Communist Party. However, their diet could not be more different. Wheat, not rice is the basis of their staple foods. Mongolians also eat far more meat and dairy products than Vietnamese.
- South Sudan is the only African country on this list. Cassava and sorghum are the staple foods in South Sudan. The country also eats relatively little meat compared to Vietnam. South Sudanese cuisine tends to be more rustic and hearty, while Vietnamese cuisine is known for its delicate use of fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables.
- Uzbekistan is a double-landlocked country in Central Asia. It is predominately Muslim, so a much lower amount of pork is consumed there. Uzbekistan tends to eat more beef and lamb. It also consumes more grapes and apples. Furthermore, flatbreads and tomatoes form a large part of the country’s diet, unlike in Vietnam.
- Tajikistan is yet another predominately Muslim country on this list that was once part of the USSR. Its cuisine is quite similar to Uzbekistan’s. Vietnamese cuisine tends to be lighter and more herbaceous, while Tajik cuisine is heartier and more spice-driven. A much greater portion of Tajikistan’s diet is comprised of flatbread, potatoes, and tomatoes.
- Syria is an Arabic-speaking that borders the Mediterranean Sea. Although both Syria and Vietnam were both colonized by France, their food has little in common. Syria has a much more arid climate than Vietnam, so their farms produce drastically different crops. Syrians tend to eat a lot of oranges, lemons, watermelons, and apples, while Vietnamese tend to eat more bananas.
Vietnam’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Freshwater Fish
Fruit: Banana, Watermelon
Vegetable: Cabbage, Soya Bean
Starch: Rice, Corn
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.